Kerstin Rodgers aka Ms Marmite Lover chose a vegetarian curry as one of her Desert Island Dishes and it made me think about this beautiful dish that's a firm favourite in our house. It's so easy to make, and is mainly made using ingredients that you undoubtedly do have lying in wait in your cupboards.  

As we as a nation do seem to be trying to reduce the amount of meat we all eat, dishes like this make that a very easy notion. The idea of #meatfreemondays has really caught on, and apart from the obvious environmental impacts it does also have a beneficial effect on your wallet. Vegetables are cheaper than meat, but with dishes like this you don't need to feel like you are missing out. This delicious curry is cheap, cheerful and comforting; all of which I like.

Kerstin is righ,t because actually in a curry you don't miss the meat nearly as much as you may think and there are so many beautiful vegetables that work wonderfully in this sort of dish. Being vegetarian doesn't mean you need to sit there nibbling on a wilting lettuce leaf, bulk your dishes out with hearty butternut squash, pumpkin or sweet potato. Lentils, beans, split peas and chickpeas are surprisingly filling and are a good source of protein. 

It's time to have a rummage in the back of your kitchen cupboards and see what you've got. Dust off those tins, identify the spices and just have a go at experimenting. With a dish such as this it's fun to look at the recipe but don't let it clip your wings. A little less of this, a bit more of that, or substituting for something you already have is A okay in my book. In fact, it's more than okay, it's positively encouraged.

Anyone who has watched Masterchef will know the importance of tasting your food as you go, but the importance of this must not be underestimated. Taste as you go, and adjust to suit your taste. There can be nothing more disappointing than sitting down to eat and realising you didn't even season it. So taste, taste and taste some more.

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp garam masala

1 inch of fresh grated ginger

1 handful of coriander - stalks and leaves chopped separately

1 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1/4 tsp fresh red chilli chopped

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

400g tin chopped tomatoes

400g tin chickpeas, drained

400ml tin coconut milk

salt and pepper

handfuls of fresh spinach leaves

juice of 1/2 lemon

To serve:

sliced spring onions

chopped red chilli

brown rice

drizzle of yoghurt 

wedge of lemon 


Put the oil into a large saucepan (heavy bottomed ideally) and gently fry the onion. Once soft, but not coloured, add your spices. That's the garlic, fresh grated ginger, tumeric, coriander stalks, dried chilli flakes, fresh red chilli, ground coriander, and ground cumin. Fry gently - it should be smelling great now. Season well with salt and pepper.

Then add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. They should begin to cook down and reduce a little. Add the tinned coconut and cook for another 10 minutes until the sauce is thickened. You can always turn the heat up to encourage this at the end.

Add the chickpeas and cook for a minute or so.

Stir in the spinach and chopped coriander and turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice.

Serve with brown rice, chopped spring onion, fresh red chilli slices and a wedge of lemon.